How Constitutional Change Helping Freed Slaves Became Illegal Immigration Magnet

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immigration, illegal immigration, birthright citizenship, joe biden, donald trump, immigration policy, how many illegals in us, illegal alien number, illegal immigrants number, how many undocumented migrants in us

immigration, illegal immigration, birthright citizenship, joe biden, donald trump, immigration policy, how many illegals in us, illegal alien number, illegal immigrants number, how many undocumented migrants in us

Donald Trump says he’d sign an executive order giving federal agencies the power to stop children of illegal aliens from getting automatic citizenship. Is the idea feasible? Would it be legal? And what does a constitutional amendment meant to help freed slaves after the Civil War have to do with anything? Sputnik reached out to experts to find out.

Former US president and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s promise to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship on his first day in office if he wins in 2024 has sparked renewed debate across the US political establishment, earning him praise from Republicans and derision and rage from many Democrats.
Birthright citizenship – the right of any child born in the United States to receive citizenship and its corresponding rights and responsibilities automatically, has been a highly divisive issue for decades, with opinion polls showing that Americans are split virtually straight down the middle on the current law.

The United States is one about two dozen countries in the world with automatic birthright citizenship, with others including Canada, most Latin American countries, Tanzania and Chad. But the US is not like these other countries, says Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, DC-based think tank which supports tighter controls on immigration.

“The United States is Canada are the only two big immigrant-receiving countries that still have [birthright citizenship]. You know, Mexico has it, and I think Peru and Colombia, but there’s not a lot of immigrants going there. So it’s not relevant to their politics. It is relevant for our politics and probably more here even than in Canada, because you can’t walk into Canada and be an illegal alien as there’s no way to get there. Whereas the United States obviously has a 2,000-mile border with Mexico, which is attracting people from everywhere in the world now, especially because of President Biden’s weak immigration policies. So it’s a live issue,” Krikorian explained.

Jessica M Vaughan, the Center for Immigrant Studies’ director of policy studies, estimates that between 250,000 and 300,000 children are born to illegal aliens in the US each year, plus 200,000 more born to non-citizens who are in the country on a temporary visa.

According to Krikorian, birthright citizenship de facto if not de jure allows the parents of these children to stay in the country, making the family eligible for welfare and other benefits afforded to citizens, and serving “as a kind of magnet or incentive for illegal immigration.”

Vaughan says some 60 percent of women entering the country illegal “will have a child here within two years.” Furthermore, “when the child reaches age 21, he or she will be able to sponsor the parents for legal immigration. In addition, the child can transmit US citizenship to his or her children, even if he does not ever live in the United States.”

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Enabled by Obscure Constitutional Amendment Meant to Help Former Slaves

Birthright citizenship is possible thanks to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

FILE - A first printing of the United States Constitution is displayed at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview on Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. The rare copy has sold Thursday, Nov. 18, for a record $43.2 million at Sotheby's to an anonymous buyer who outbid a group of crypocurrency investors. - Sputnik International

14th Amendment

United States Constitution

While the 14th Amendment became the legal bedrock behind birthright citizenship after the landmark 1898 Supreme Court case United States v. Wong Kim Ark, its original purpose was very different, Krikorian says.

“What it was intended for back in the 1860s was to make sure that Southern states didn’t strip the citizenship of newly freed black slaves because there was a question as to whether citizenship was a federal government issue or purely a state government issue,” he explained. “And so one of the post-Civil War constitutional amendments basically said, ‘No, Alabama and Mississippi, you can’t strip these newly freed slaves of their citizenship.'”

There was an exception to the amendment related to America’s First Nations peoples, but it was ended in the 1920s, after which American Samoa became the last US territory without automatic birthright citizenship.
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Is Trump’s Plan Feasible? Would It Solve America’s Immigration Woes?

Trump’s executive order idea would only ease the US’s immigration problem “to a limited degree,” according to Krikorian, who believes that the far bigger issue is that “we have allowed too many illegal immigrants into the United States to begin with.”

“In other words, if we did a better job of preventing illegal immigration, then the birthright citizenship issue wouldn’t be as big a deal. So if we were to change our birthright citizenship practices, but not get much more serious about enforcing immigration laws, we’ll just end up with more and more US-born people who are illegal aliens,” he said.

Vaughan agrees that eliminating birthright citizenship wouldn’t end all of America’s problems with illegal immigration, but says it would at least “remove one very powerful incentive for women to come illegally.”

“It would also help ensure that US citizenship is reserved for those non-citizens who come to our country through legal channels. Finally, it would reduce the fiscal cost of illegal immigration, and prevent taxpayers from having to provide welfare benefits to the children of illegal immigrants,” she noted.

As president, Trump wouldn’t actually have the authority to end birthright citizenship anyway, Krikorian explained.

Rather, what he could do “is instruct the State Department not to give passports to people who can’t show that they have at least one US citizen or green card parent and instruct the Social Security Administration not to issue Social Security numbers to newborns who can’t show at least one of whose parents can’t show that they have legal residence in the United States.”

At that point, if the State Department carried out his instructions, it would inevitably “result in a lawsuit to stop it and would end up before the Supreme Court,” which would determine whether or not the 14th Amendment is subject to reinterpretation. “That’s a strategy. I’m not saying it will work, but that’s a genuine thought-through strategy. And I don’t know that they through throw it that way, rather than just [Trump] talking off the top of his head,” the expert said.

Krikorian doesn’t rule out that Trump’s talk could be empty “bluster,” given that he raised the issue repeatedly during his presidency, but never followed through.

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Alternative Solutions

Krikorian thinks an Australia-style system in which children who have lived in the country for ten years without interruption are granted citizenship may be a solution to the issue that can be applied to the US.

There’s broad enough support for ending birthright citizenship among Trump’s Republican base, and possibly among independents as well in light of the current administration’s perceived failure to deal with the problem of illegal immigration more broadly, he says.

“[Biden’s] policies are so bad on immigration, he has literally released into the United States more than 2 million illegal border crossers, none of whom is ever going to be made to leave. So this is an issue that even much of the political middle is dissatisfied with. So there’s no question that it’s going to be a big issue both in the primaries for Republicans and in the general election,” Krikorian said.

Vaughan agrees, saying she expects immigration to be among the top three key issues of the 2024 election, “because of the unpopularity of the Biden policies and because there likely will be a clear distinction between the Republican and Democratic candidates, with Republicans favoring tougher laws and Democrats wanting to continue the Biden policies.”

Migrants wait along a border wall Aug. 23, 2022, after crossing from Mexico near Yuma, Ariz. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.05.2023

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The US is in the midst of its deepest illegal immigration crisis in decades, with US Border Patrol in border states like Texas and Arizona overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of illegal border crossers, whose numbers topped 2.76 million in fiscal year 2022, breaking the previous record by over a million people.

Many observers attribute the current crisis to a flurry of executive orders signed by President Biden during his first days in office in January 2021 revoking nearly a dozen hardline immigration directives instituted by his predecessor, including the construction of the Trump border wall.

Biden’s critics and Latin American leaders including President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have said that the administration’s ambiguity on how it would treat people entering the country illegally resulted in a major surge of illegal immigration, and incentivized criminal gangs to ramp up human smuggling and drug-running across the border.





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